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Online Symposium: ‘Ways of Seeing’: Women and Photography in Scotland

29th October at 9:15 am - 4:00 pm

A yellow-coloured page from a photograph album. On it are displayed about a dozen small, black and white photos of people and stately homes, surrounded by signatures and a watercolour sketch of ivy.
A yellow-coloured page from a photograph album. On it are displayed about a dozen small, black and white photos of people and stately homes, surrounded by signatures and a watercolour sketch of ivy.
Page from a photograph album compiled by Violet May Hope (later Brodie), 1899 © NTS, Brodie Castle

How have women photographers in Scotland taken control of their own image? This online symposium will reveal neglected stories of Scottish women in photography, including feminist social documentary photographer Franki Raffles, folklorist Margaret Fay Shaw and more.

‘Ways of Seeing’: Women and Photography in Scotland, Thursday 29th October, Online

Inspired by and featuring collections from The National Trust for Scotland and GWL, these sessions explore photographic portrayals of women through time and will challenge institutions to better use photographic collections to tell women’s stories.

The NTS photographic holdings feature many women as takers, collectors, preservers and subjects. These include the collections of folklorist Margaret Fay Shaw, aristocrat Violet Brodie and Glaswegian typist Agnes Toward, all of which frequently depict women.

The symposium will take place over three sessions. You can attend any or all of the sessions.

Session 1: 9.15am to 10.30am

Session 2: 11.30am to 1pm

Session 3: 2pm to 4pm  

This is one of our “attend” events this Autumn. You can sit back, get comfy and watch the panels, with the added option to take part in a Q and A at the end.


Session 1: Detoxing the Institution

– ‘You’ll never live like common people’: depictions of work and the working-class in National Trust for Scotland photo albums with Lily Barnes; Morton Photography Project Officer (National Trust for Scotland)

– Women Photographers, Institutional Practices and The South Kensington Museum with Erika Lederman; Cataloguer, Photographs Section (Victoria and Albert Museum)


Session 2: Using the Absent and Forgotten

– The photos by women you just won’t see with Sarah Kudirka; Artist

– From 1939–2019: how can photography support women to share narratives and explore their creativity? With Katie Gander; Inclusive Arts Practitioner

– WIFIE: Women In Focus In Edinburgh with Margaret Drysdale (Founder) and Caroline Armstrong (Chair of Women In Focus In Edinburgh)


Session 3: Ways of Seeing Scottish Women

– To Let You Understand: Franki Raffles and Feminist Solidarity with Catherine Spencer

– Sonsy Fishwives: gender and class in Scotland’s earliest photographic portraits with Caroline Douglas; PhD Candidate (Royal College of Art)

– Land of the Free, Scotland the Brave: working-class Scottish women through an American photographer’s lens with Arielle Murphy; Recent Graduate (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

– Overlaps: Tracking the distinctiveness of gaze of early 20th century women photographers in Scotland with Jenny Brownrigg; Exhibitions Director (The Glasgow School of Art)


You can find information on all the speakers in this document: Ways of Seeing Speaker Bios.

Each session will include time for discussion and questions after the presentations. Learn more about the symposium here.

As well as these three live panel events, we will also be making available pre-recorded Shutter Speed sessions. These snapshot presentations offer a glimpse into the many stories of women and photography in Scotland. These will be available to watch between 15th October and 29th November, and you can find them here.

You can see work by women photographers in Scotland in the online Ways of Seeing exhibition hosted by Shutter Hub from Thursday 29th October.


Please note that these sessions will be recorded.

All the sessions are now fully booked. Please email emily.ilett@womenslibrary.org.uk to add your name to the waiting list with the number of the session you would like to attend.

You can attend one or all of the sessions. The capacity for these events is restricted so please book early to avoid disappointment. To attend, please book on to all the sessions you want to attend below and we will share an email invitation with you.


This session takes place via an online video call link. If you would like to attend, please book below and we will share an email invitation along with simple and straight forward instructions on how this will work. If you have any concerns about how this will work for you, please do get in touch and we’ll do all we can to support you in joining the session. If you have any access needs, please let us know as soon as you can by emailing emily.ilett@womenslibrary.org.uk.

NTS Logo Trust Foundation USA Black

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of the National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA, particularly Jeannie Campbell Redpath Becton.


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29th October
9:15 am - 4:00 pm
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Glasgow Women’s Library
0141 550 2267